Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast
Episode 23: Les Rues Are Made for Walking

This week, Smart Growth America brought us the bad news: More than 47,000 people died while walking between 2003 and 2012. Most are killed on high-speed arterial roads. A disproportionate number are elderly or racial minorities.

Paris brought us the antidote: The city is lowering its default speed limit to 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, per hour. Speeds are already set at that level in about a third of the city's streets. That's good policy, and one cities around the world should be following.

Meanwhile, the New York Times informed us that while housing is crawling out from the rock it's been hiding under since the bust, the new construction boom is almost entirely made up of multi-family housing -- a major shift from the single-family rut we've been stuck in for decades.

In this episode, Jeff and I process all of that and more. Find holes in our analysis in the comments. And don't miss an episode: Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed.

And lastly, our spring pledge drive ends on Sunday and we haven't yet hit our goal of reaching 400 donors. Donate today! We're grateful for your support!

Direct download: mixdown_052314_2930.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 11:26am EST

Welcome to a super-long extra-bonus episode of Talking Headways! We only took on two topics this week, but we got so gonzo excited about them both we just couldn’t shut up.

First, we talked to Christof Spieler, a member of Houston Metro, about the “blank-sheet” bus overhaul he helped design. Instead of trying to tweak the current system around its edges, Metro decided to start again from scratch, planning a system of routes and service that makes sense for the way the city is now. They thought the upside would outweigh the downside, but they weren’t prepared for this: There was almost no downside. By eliminating  redundant and inefficient service, they could optimize their routes without eliminating low-ridership routes that people depend on. And to hear Christof tell it, what they’re accomplishing is pretty amazing:

What we’re really doing is focusing on frequent service. We’re basically doubling the number of routes that offer frequent service, and we’re extending that frequent service to seven days a week. So: every 15 minutes, seven days a week, network of about 20 routes.

That puts a million people within walking distance of those routes; it puts a million jobs within walking distance of those routes. It is going to be one of the largest coverage areas of high frequency transit in the United States. And that is a huge deal for our existing riders, because currently only about 25 percent of our boardings are at stops that have all-week frequent service. This will take that up to 73 percent.

Once we tear ourselves away from Christof and his beautiful vision of the future of transit, we do a debrief on what’s going on with the transportation bill in Congress. The Senate bill isn’t all it could be, but in Congress nothing is ever all it could be, and this one at least stands a chance of passage — or it would, anyway, if there were an actual, realistic funding stream attached to it. No such luck. Tune in for all the gory details.

Side note: Big thanks to all who have donated during Streetsblog’s spring pledge drive, especially those of you who specifically mentioned the podcast as why you’re giving. We appreciate you! There’s still time to get in on the fun: Please donate today!

As always, Talking Headways is available on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed, and this right here is where you leave your snappy comments. We welcome your backtalk and your sassy mouth. 

Direct download: mixdown_christophe_051614_4918.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 11:35am EST

We were so excited about the Census' first-ever report exclusively focused on biking and walking that we devoted this entire episode of the Talking Headways podcast to an interview with its author, Brian McKenzie. 

Bike commuting is up 60 percent since 2000, the Census data shows, and people with low incomes are by far the biggest proportion of the riding public. 

People who bike and walk are hungry for reliable data. While government-sanctioned statistics on vehicle-miles-traveled are easy enough to come by, where would you go for foot-miles-walked or bicycle-miles-ridden? Strava? No. The Census.

Not that the Census data doesn't have its limitations, and Brian talks candidly about those. But the data gives us a glimpse of who's walking and biking for transportation, and where, and why they stop.

Dive deep with us. Here is a full half-hour just for you bike-ped dataheads. Enjoy. And talk at us in the comments. 

PS: Talking Headways is available on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed

PPS: Many thanks to those of you who have already donated -- especially those who specifically mentioned that you enjoy the podcast. Keep it coming!

Direct download: Mixdown_McKenzie_census_050814_3315.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 1:39pm EST

Welcome to our all-California, all-the-time episode of the Talking Headways podcast.

We start with a statewide debate over whether $60,000+ Teslas should qualify for tax breaks -- or whether any electric vehicles should get tax breaks. Then on to the conversation about how California's cap-and-trade dollars should be spent. One proposal, from the State Senate leader, would spend it on affordable housing, sustainable communities, transit, and high-speed rail. And then we zoom in on Fresno, where one blogger wonders why the demise of BRT didn't get as much attention as it did in Nashville.

We missed the podcast after a long-ish break and are glad to be back! We hope you filled the gaping hole in your life from by our long headways by listening to back episodes of Talking Headways goodness and subscribing to us on iTunes or Stitcher or signing up for the RSS feed.

And, side note: The giveaway for our spring pledge drive has changed since we recorded this podcast. Now, you'll be entered into a drawing to win a package of zines and books by feminist bike activist and writer Elly Blue. Thanks for your donation!

Direct download: podcast_mixdown_042814_3429ish.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 2:46pm EST

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